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Which cables for 1.5 and 1.25 laundry drain?

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  • Which cables for 1.5 and 1.25 laundry drain?

    I have 2 drain pipes leaving my basement and running out to a leach field. One is 1.5 and the other 1.25 inches. They are metal. The 1.5 is fed from my upstairs kitchen sink (no garbage disposal) and the 1.25 is fed from a sump pump below where the sump hole is fed only from my basement laundry sink. When I do more than one load of laundry, I hear gurgling in the kitchen sink and I have water coming back into the sump hole, so I know the 2 are connected, and I have some sort of drainage issue. Water will fully drain in these drains though. It just seems to drain slower than needed.

    2 weeks ago, I kinked a 1/4"x25' snake cable in the 1.25" drain and pulled back part of a lint clog, but I still had the problems. I rented a 25' power snake Sat from Home Depot but neither pipe had a clog in the first 25 feet. I am fairly sure the 2 pipes connect and turn 90 degrees right and go down along my house to a leach system of some sort. I bought the house 7 yrs ago from a old man who told me these drains went to a leach system. He built the house in 1950 and is no longer with us.

    My home depot rents a 1/2"x75' power snake with bulb auger, but they said it won't make the 90 degree turn in a 1.25" drain. Is that true? What is the biggest cable that can make the turn in my setup? I imagine the 1.25 taps into a 1.5" pipe. A local plumber gave me a $275 estimate to snake my drain to 75 ft but since I don't have a full clog I am not yet in a panic to spend that money. I would rather buy a good snake than pay the $275 anyway. I am moderately handy.

    I have not been good at using drain cleaner in these drains and started using some 2 days ago. Is it possible that Dep drain cleaner alone could fix my problem if bacteria eats some goop away?

    I appreciate any suggestions!


  • #2
    Re: Which cables for 1.5 and 1.25 laundry drain?

    you said that you have a septic tank when was the last time you had it cleaned ? Do the two lines tie in together in the basement or in the yard ? If they tie in together in the basement that would be the point you would want to snake it from if there is a cleanout then you could use a bigger cable. I usually would say leave the drain cleaning to the Pros as it can be quite dangerouse if you dont know what you are doing. If the one plumber told you $275 to clean it out and that sounds to high there are probly other plumbers who might do it for less. I would probably make a couple of phone calls before doing a job that you might get seriously injured doing which would actually cost you a lot more in the long run.


    • #3
      Re: Which cables for 1.5 and 1.25 laundry drain?

      I have 2 septic tanks for my 2 bathrooms, but these drains supposedly do not got into a septic tank - just some sort of leach field he said. The 2 pipes tie together out in the yard, and definitely do not go to either of the 2 septic tanks that I know about (that he showed me locations of and I had cleaned out 2 yrs ago).


      • #4
        Re: Which cables for 1.5 and 1.25 laundry drain?

        You have an unusual system. Is it an old property? I can think of no reason why there would be two septic tanks, unless the second bath was added much later and is very far from the first and it (somehow) was cheaper to put in a second system than tie it into the existing one.

        It sounds like your kitchen and sump pump are going to a drywell. This arrangement is not unheard of in older homes here, but is not legal in current installations.

        A drywell is basically a hole in the ground filled with rock with the drain pipe run into it. The idea is that, when something drains, the space between the rocks will accept the short duration high flow, storing it until the slower-to-accept-water ground around it has time to absorb it.

        It's not uncommon in my experience for these fail. Over time dirt silts down between the rocks, and anything other than water (lint from wash, food and grease from kitchen) tends to clog up the spaces between the rocks close to the pipe outlet.

        You might have a clog in the pipe to the drywell, or might have a failing drywell due to one or both of the scenarios described above. A clog should be relatively easy to remove, but I suspect you have the other problem. I'd try to verify that. If the drywell is giving up, your options are more expensive; re route the line to one of your septic tanks (should be done inside the house, tieing into an existing 4" from a bathroom, not a separate line outside), or dig out and replace the rock in the drywell (if allowed).

        I'd try to jet the line, not snake it, as this will be both more effective for the mix of grease and lint in your line than a snake, and will have a chance of cleaning out the area of rock near the pipe outlet.

        You mention that the drain line is metal. I suspect your system is old, and will likely have threaded fittings at the bends. It is difficult to get equipment through threaded bends at all, and a jetter is more difficult in these than a cable.

        How far into the line did you get before kinking the 1/4" cable? Far enough you think you might be out to the drywell? Or close enough that you might have just been caught in a bend? Could you access it from another point to eliminate having to go through some of the bends?

        I agree that a 1/2" cable is pretty stout to try to get through 1 1/2" or 1 1/4" bends, especially if they are threaded. I'd be thinking 1/4" or 3/8" cable depending on the distance I thought I had to run.

        I regard chemicals with skepticism... but then, that is because by the time I get called in the problem is beyond what a jug of chemicals will help. I see a lot of clogs where the chems have failed to help. I don't know how many I never hear about because they worked.
        Last edited by Ace Sewer; 10-27-2009, 12:59 AM.


        • #5
          Re: Which cables for 1.5 and 1.25 laundry drain?

          Thanks much for the reply! I actually did a load of laundry today and by the rinse cycle, I had backwash and an mildly ugly smell (in kitchen and basement) that is quite annoying. My sump pump has to keep running and re-running for quite a while, and the water seems to be going up the other (kitchen) pipe then back into the sump hole. So, I got ticked off and went out and started digging so I could see what the heck was out there in the yard. Turns out - the pipes have a concrete slab on top of them. Its not a septic top -it was much larger, and it the concrete seems to make a turn with the pipes down along the house. I am guessing the concrete is for protecting of the pipes? Or is it something else? I cannot access the pipes outside the house because of the concrete, so I cannot bypass the bends.

          My house was built in 1950 and I am in Rochester, NY. A drywell sounds like what I must have. Chemicals don't seem to be working. I think the bends are about 12 out from the house. I have snaked 25 feet into each pipe. When I kinked the snake, it was about 15 feet into the 1.25 pipe and I think it had hit a clog rather than a bend. The pipes I replaced with PVC for the laundry inside the house were metal and threaded, so I would guess the bends are also threaded.

          My basement ceiling is low and the center beam is only about 7.5 feet above the floor. My 2 bathrooms are on separate sides of the beam and the beam is too low for pipes to run under it and across the house (and there is not enough room above the beam). My sump pump is about 20 feet from where my small bath goes into its 4" septic pipe. It looked possible to tie into it when I looked the other day but my ceiling is so low it might be tricky. I may try this.

          My town put in sewer on my street 4 yrs ago and it would cost me $1000 permit plus about $3000 for the plumbing (all the way around house and tie both septics plus the 2 sinks) work to tie into it. That is another option, but some people told me I should stick with the septic systems rather than pay the $4k and annual fees. Any suggestions there?


          • #6
            Re: Which cables for 1.5 and 1.25 laundry drain?

            The nasty smell generally means the cause of the problem is at the tank (in a septic sytem) or drywell as the odor is backing all the way from there. I would see about tieing the two lines into the main line for one of the two septic tanks.

            Keeping those septic tanks maintained properly (or even over doing it) will be alot less expensive than city sewer. If they ever do fail, you will most likely be required to connect.


            • #7
              Re: Which cables for 1.5 and 1.25 laundry drain?

              Agree with Trent.

              No reason for the concrete on top of the pipes; it's either coincidence, or more likely, as it sounds like your house was built for himself by a crusty old man type who did everything himself and there are a lot of quirks to it, it is there in an unneccesary effort to protect the pipes.

              And something to consider about that last bit; your tap fees are wayyyy cheap. I have a friend on a failing septic here. They are not allowed to replace the system; they must tie into sewer. $50k in fees before spade one of dirt is moved. All these years they've been happily saving their $60/mo. but 20 yr ago they could have tied in for less than $5k.

              I like septics; think they help preserve aquifers. The only reason for treatment plants is density. But you might want to start a tap fee fund with what you'd be paying in sewer fees, and get those tanks pumped regularly to preserve the field(s). Crusty old man types never get their tanks pumped. They are probably way overdue.

              Another thing to look into (assuming you plan on being in the house for a long time) is to have a chat with the san district and see if they are planning any tap fee increases, and if you can buy the tap at the current fee and tap in fee free when you need to. Might make sense, might not, I'd have someone who knows what they are doing take a hard look at your system and make a decision if I were you.

              You can put some $/effort into trying to clear a clog you are not sure is there and are not sure you can get to from the access you have.

              You can spend some $ to locate and dig up and check out the drywell, which will let you get into the pipes from the downstream end also, but might just tell you the drywell is done and be money better spent rerouting the sinks to a septic.

              You can put some $ into rerouting the sinks to one or other of the tanks, but that would be a lot of effort/$ if it turns out it was just a clog.

              You can spend even bigger $ to tie into the sewer, but that may be money wasted if your septic has years of life left in it.

              All are dice rolls one way or another w/o better information. You'll have to spend some $ to get that information, so it comes down to making some guesses about what might work, and how likely it is to work, and what it costs to try and see, and comparing those costs to the cost of the nuclear solution, and deciding how lucky you feel.

              My personal feeling about it, having never seen it, etc, is find a way to reroute the sinks to tie into a bathroom line. The sump should be easy(ish); it's got a pump to push it wherever you need it to go.


              • #8
                Re: Which cables for 1.5 and 1.25 laundry drain?

                Thanks again guys for the great advice!

                I looked at it in depth today and I don't think it would be very hard to tie into my front septic. The problem there though is that when I bought the house, we tested the septic tanks and this front tank did not drain correctly. There were juniper bushes and pine trees in the yard then, and it seems they crushed the pipes. But, since it has only been me and my wife in the house and we dont use the small bath (just toilet and sink) much, I have not had any problems with it. I wonder if tying the sump pump to it might start problems though - but we only do 1-3 loads of laundry a week. I was thinking I might leave the kitchen sink going into the drywell and tie the sump to the front septic. It would be easy to also tie in the kitchen drain at a later time.

                Running pipe to the other side of the house for the back septic would be much harder and the pipe would have to go in front of windows. But, that septic does work fine. I think I may check with my town to see if re-doing the septic leach system or the drywell is allowed.